Should I Rebuild My Heavy Equipment?

Equipment managers are always looking for ways to optimize the value of their fleet. When it's time to consider potential methods of revitalizing your equipment or getting something new, rebuilding heavy equipment is a viable option. This process involves changing out all major and many minor components, swapping them out for new or like-new parts. Other aspects, like calibration and settings, are also adjusted to give the equipment greater longevity and performance without the same cost of brand-new options.

Whether you're looking to rebuild a piece of equipment or an entire fleet, rebuilding is often a great choice. Discover what construction equipment rebuilds can offer, as well as how they compare to buying new, and learn when to rebuild with Empire Cat® Certified Rebuilds.


The Benefits of a Heavy Equipment Rebuild

When you rebuild your heavy equipment, you're getting a product with a completely renewed lifespan and operational capabilities. There are a few different types of rebuilds available, so whether you want to rebuild your entire piece of equipment or just the power train, a rebuild can bring new value to your equipment.

Because you're replacing most of the components, a rebuild offers many of the functional benefits of getting a new piece of equipment. You can enjoy the advantages of a new piece of equipment without the costs associated with it. Some of these benefits include:

Improved Performance

New components will outperform old ones, especially if you're replacing poorly maintained parts with quality pieces. Rebuilt construction equipment offers performance benefits like more power and increased fuel efficiency. Enjoy those performance upgrades when you rebuild heavy equipment with engineering improvements that have come about since you first purchased your equipment.

New Features and Capabilities 

One reason many fleet owners choose to get new equipment is to take advantage of the bells and whistles that many manufacturers offer on these newly built options. Depending on what you're looking for, a heavy equipment rebuild helps you take advantage of the latest and greatest features. From advanced safety features to comfortable and cool cabins and high-performing parts, these qualities can make a big difference to your setup.

Longer Lifespan

Swapping out parts means those components are starting fresh. They'll last longer than the existing parts and continue to keep working for years to come. Your equipment also gets a boost overall. Equipment originally purchased with a 15-year lifespan can suddenly last a lot longer, which looks great for your books. It helps you get the most value out of the investment and avoid the downtime that could come with deteriorating equipment.

Greater Value

A rebuild is a chance to add more value into your equipment, making it more economical when you eventually need to sell down the line. Also consider the value a rebuild brings to the company — does it mean you can be more competitive and take on bids you wouldn't otherwise be able to take? Or does it mean you can save big on fuel costs in the future? A rebuild can be a significant help when you're looking for ways to boost your equipment's value.

Cost Savings

When compared to buying new or used, heavy equipment rebuilds are worth it. It can be easier on your bottom line in the short term and more economical in the long run. For businesses without a lot of cash to spend on new equipment, rebuilds can be a great choice. Remember to factor in the savings you can expect from reduced maintenance requirements, fuel economy and operational efficiencies, as well.


Rebuilding vs. Buying New Equipment

Rebuilding equipment is usually considered alongside the option of buying new additions for your fleet. Both can be perfectly viable approaches depending on your business's situation and your goals. Both have their pros and cons, and you'll need to consider a few different factors when determining if you should buy new equipment or rebuild existing fleets.

We've gone over the benefits of rebuilding, but what about buying new equipment? Replacing your equipment could offer these advantages:

  • The latest technology: Get all the newest features in one simple purchase when you buy equipment for your fleet.
  • A new lifespan: When you purchase new equipment, you're restarting with a fresh lifespan. You can enjoy operations with your new equipment for a long time, and this lifespan can also mean reduced maintenance costs.
  • Efficient operation: New equipment enhances your fleet with the latest advances in engineering. Enjoy upgrades like improved fuel efficiency when buying new.
  • Increased job capacity: Depending on what you purchase, you could use new equipment to expand your operations. Taking on a variety of jobs will impress current and future clients and earn your business higher profits.

But new equipment comes with costs to consider. It requires capital up front, along with a long-term commitment. That means it might not be good for every business if the financials aren't right. Purchasing equipment also comes with potentially high tax payments. Other than the financials, new equipment may also have a learning curve if it has some complex features.

Many choose to purchase used equipment to avoid the costs of new. This purchase can lessen the cost significantly and help avoid depreciation, but it still affects the bottom line.

Some things to consider when assessing an equipment rebuild versus buying additions for your fleet include:

  • The need for increased capacity: If you're looking to increase your capabilities, consider whether you can achieve that through a rebuild or if a new piece of equipment can better meet the growth you're looking for.
  • The resale value of your equipment: If your equipment has little to no resale value, it won't help you minimize the impact of a new purchase. So, if you don't have much resale value, a rebuild usually offers more bang for your buck.
  • Your business goals: A business looking to maximize value may be more interested in the potential savings of a rebuild, while one looking to gain competitive advantages might prefer to buy new equipment. Consider whether new equipment is necessary to find these benefits or if a rebuild will offer them, too, which is often the case.
  • Availability of rebuild services: If you don't have a trustworthy rebuild service available, a new equipment purchase could be the better choice. Look for a dependable, quality service provider before selecting a rebuild to get the best results.


Rebuilding vs. Repairing Heavy Equipment

Another option is to consider repairing your old equipment. Mileage can vary significantly with this approach, as it depends on the quality of your equipment and what needs repairing.

Often, repairing is the fastest solution and the cheapest in the short term, but it doesn't increase the overall life of your equipment. You may also deal with difficulty locating parts or long lead times, depending on the type of part and the services available near you. Plus, you're not getting any added capacity with a simple repair if you're looking for an upgrade.

If the severity of repairs is significant, it may be a better choice to rebuild. You could end up with problems down the road from aging components. Other parts may fail, too, leading to continuous repairs and a cycle of putting money into your equipment and never fixing everything. Still, if there are only a few components that need fixing, repairs can be a good choice. Repairs also mean you get to keep using a familiar piece of equipment without a new learning curve.


When to Replace Heavy Equipment

Knowing when to replace your heavy equipment can be a tough decision. After all, you want to make the most of your equipment and hang onto it for as long as possible. You don't want to sell it sooner than necessary, and you don't want to spend more money than needed or create safety risks or continuous repair requirements in the future.

One rule of thumb for replacing heavy equipment is to consider the 50/50 rule. This rule states you shouldn't replace your equipment until the cost of repairing it is more than half the cost of the equipment, you're looking to replace it with.

These cost calculations should include labor expenses and the cost of parts. You'll also need to factor in safety concerns or efficiency damages that keeping failing equipment could cause. A failing part that causes a safety hazard is never something you want to gamble with, and poor efficiency from an underperforming product can really slow you down. The goal of a rebuild is to extend your equipment's life as long as possible without any major breakdowns in the future.

Some of the factors you'd want to consider when replacing your equipment include:

  • Warranty: If your equipment is still under its warranty, it may be better to go through it to get your repairs done. Warranty repairs can keep your fleet running with little to no cost.
  • Safety: If your equipment is posing a safety risk, a rebuild or replacement are valid choices. Running equipment that's too out-of-shape for safe operations can pose a significant risk. Regardless of industry, failing equipment can quickly lead to incidents that put the well-being of your workers at risk.
  • Money owed: If your equipment still has money owed on it, a rebuild can allow you to make the most of the investment and everything it has to offer. You don't necessarily need to buy a new piece of equipment when components break. There's a high chance a rebuild can keep it moving well past the date by which you would have it paid off.
  • Financial situation: Think about how the equipment will affect your balance sheet, cash flow and income statements, along with the taxes associated with the cost of a new unit.
  • Extent of repairs: If there are just one or two components that need fixing, a repair can be a quick and cost-effective fix, but more extensive issues will call for a rebuild or replacement. The best candidates for rebuilds or repairs are pieces of equipment that have been well maintained.
  • Usage: It might seem troubling if a recently purchased piece of equipment starts to struggle, but use hours and application are much better indicators of performance. A heavily used part of your fleet may need a replacement much faster.

One way to help the process is to create two or three different cost analysis scenarios for the options you're considering so you can assess and compare them side-by-side. Consider a rebuild if you want to extend the equipment life, upgrade your technology, and avoid the depreciation of buying new. Think about a replacement if you'd rather avoid further repair expenses in the future and lower your regular operating costs.


Rebuilding Heavy Equipment With Empire

At Empire, our heavy equipment rebuild department is housed in a 90,000-square-foot facility with cutting-edge technology used in our equipment, processes, and lean re-manufacturing practices. Our highly trained technicians take great care to deliver expert service for a rebuilt piece of equipment that meets or exceeds your expectations for high-performing and cost-effective results.

Our heavy equipment rebuild capabilities for Cat equipment include:

  • Comprehensive testing procedures for engines, transmissions, and hydraulic dynamometers
  • 82 component rebuild bays
  • Over 100 certified technicians
  • Industry-leading turnaround times
  • An on-site equipment monitoring action center
  • Comprehensive fluids analysis

We've completed over 3,000 rebuilds as a team. With everything from power trains and engines to engine control modules, drive lines and other components, our comprehensive and detailed rebuilds can address certain components or entire pieces of equipment. Whatever your goal is, we can help you get there with the right kind of equipment rebuilds. Whether you're looking for capacity upgrades or performance improvements, our skilled team puts expertise into building the ideal solution for your needs.


Contact Empire to Learn More About Equipment Rebuilds

Equipment rebuilds can offer a massive yet affordable upgrade to entire fleets and individual pieces of equipment. For those looking to bring new life to their equipment without breaking the bank, consider a rebuild with Empire.

It can be tough to choose what's best for your fleet, and what's best for your organization will depend on a wide range of factors like your finances and goals. The knowledgeable representatives at Empire know all about what goes into making this decision and are happy to walk through your situation and help you pick the right method of equipment improvement.

To learn more about Empire and how equipment rebuilds can work for your operation, please reach out to the pros at Empire today!


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